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John Williams: More teams at W/Cup positive
The decision by the world governing body for football-FIFA, to expand the amount of teams in the World Cup to 48 has been described as a positive move for T&T, said David John-Williams, the T&T Football Association president. Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, has however described it as foolish.
The FIFA Council unanimously decided in favour of expanding the World Cup to a 48-team competition as of 2026, following a third meeting of football’s supervisory and strategic body at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland on January 9th and 10th. From the new format, the 48 national teams will be split into 16 groups of three, and the top two will advance to a 32-team knockout stage.
A report yesterday stated that the new 48-team format has been drawn up in such a way that there is no reduction in the overall number of rest days and a guaranteed maximum of seven matches for the teams reaching the final, while the current 32-day tournament duration is kept, so as not to increase the length of time for which clubs have to release their players.
Yesterday, John Williams said he found the change to be very interesting and positive, noting he will now look forward to what will be the allocation of teams for the Concacaf region, as well as the qualifying format.
The changes also include a merger of the CONMEBOL and the CONCACAF- the Confederation of North America, Central American and the Caribbean Football Federations.
CONMEBOL currently has four-and-a-half places for its 10 members, while CONCACAF has 35 FIFA members battling for three-and-a-half places. The local football boss refused to comment on whether he feels the merger will make it even more difficult for T&T to qualify for the World Cup, as it could face the mights or Brazil, Argentina, Uraguay, Paraguay, Chile and other top South Amnerica nations, as well as what the top teams from the CONCACAF, such as Costa Rica, USA, Mexico and Honduras among others.
According to John Williams, “We will just have to wait and see what the qualifying format will be like. I do not want to speculate what it will be, but what I do know is that we will definitely have to improve our performances on the field.” T&T are currently second from bottom in the CONCACAF qualifiers having lost both opening matches of the Final Round to Costa Rica 2-0 at home and Honduras 3-1 in San Pedro Sula.
Meanwhile, Warner believes it was foolish to expand the amount of teams in the World Cup, saying attempts should have been made to provide assistance to the weaker footballing nations first.
Warner who had provided a presence in world football’s decision-making for smaller Caribbean Football Union countries, said such a decision could not have been accepted had he been there, as he believes it will destroy the CFU. He described the decision as polital.
According to Warner he cannot see any country that can host a World Cup tournament of 48 teams.
The decision came following a thorough analysis, based on a report that included four different format options, namely sporting balance, competition quality, impact on football development, infrastructure, projections on financial position and the consequences for event delivery.
The Council is set to discuss further details regarding the competition, including the slot allocation per confederation at its next meeting.